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Welcome to the Virtuous Vine Newsletter. Here, you will find news about our current commercial activity, some food for thought, and other little drops in the ocean to help wash it all down.

Santé!
Charlie
THE VIRTUOUS VINE NEWSLETTER - APRIL 2016 
You gotta fight for your right 
to Terrrrroir!
[VIRTUOUS VINE NEWS]
Have you forgotten Burgundy? Come back to the good side.
There certainly are a lot of new and delicious wines out there these days. But sometimes, I taste wines that reminded me why some of the world’s great and timeless vineyards have their reputations. And customers don’t seem to forget this quickly either. Burgundy for example is still as popular as ever, and continues to inspire and motivate thinkers and drinkers… bottle after bottle.
 
Virtuous Vine is proud to be able to present the deliciously graceful Burgundies of Jean-Claude Rateau from Beaune. Jean-Claude is the first vigneron in the whole of Burgundy to have used biodynamic techniques in viticulture (since 1979). We can’t always keep up with demand on Jean-Claude Rateau’s wines, despite continuing to import more and more each time, and pushing for larger allocations of the rare cuvees. Currently, we have available:
  • AOC Hautes Côtes de Beaune Blanc 2014 (Chardonnay)
  • AOC Bourgogne Rouge 2014 (Pinot Noir)
  • AOC Beaune Villages “Les Beaux & Bons” 2013 Rouge (Pinot Noir)
  • AOC Beaune 1er Cru “Les Bressandes” 2011 Rouge (Pinot Noir)
Jean-Claude’s wines, like the man himself, are understated and elegant. To comprehend his wines can be a challenge in Jedi-like restraint. You want to look for more, and sometimes the more you look the less you see! Then finally you realise it, so obvious you wonder how you missed it all this time… The wines are quite simply the most pure expressions of their terroir imaginable, no secrets. 
 
There is no need to seek anything more complicated. This is just the fermented juice of great biodynamic fruit grown on world-class sites. And it resonates in the soul as you drink, purely and simply.
 
We are promoting Jean-Claude’s wines during April, because we want everyone to discover this oh so elegant and pure expression of what great Burgundy can be. Hurry, while stocks last.
 
by Charlie Simpson 

[THE THINK YOU HAVE WHEN YOU'RE NOT HAVING A DRINK]
Renaissance des Appellations (Return to Terroir)
A fight has been started. Organic and biodynamic producers everywhere are trying to preserve the integrity of their Appellations of Origin (AOC) and stop their identities from being standardised by industrial concerns. Burgundy happens to be one of the key frontiers where the fight is on. And Burgundy has the most intricate of all of France’s Appellation systems, very much worth saving.

One group doing a lot of hard work in this area is the growers’ association “Renaissance des Appellations”, sometimes going under the alias “Return to Terroir”. Members of Renaissance des Appellations all practice Biodynamics, and share similar views on the role of wine producers as custodians of land and terroir. Most see their role as being to encourage the connection of the plant to its local and cosmic environment, and then ultimately translating this network of life and sensory complexity for the drinker.
 
To spend a day at a trade show or tasting organised by this group of producers confirms that Biodynamics has a real impact. The wines you can taste from virtually any of the members is usually pretty close to perfection, and always very pure. They seem to translate terroir with honesty, no make-up.
 
So what are they protecting, and what is terroir?

IN VINO VITA
Here is a video which can be found on the Renaissance web-site (with English subtitles). If you have 20 minutes, watch it all! But for a short and passionate view of the main issue at hand, listen to Nicolas Joly’s tirade at 15’30”.
In an Australian context, I thought Max Allen and his guest speakers summed terroir up pretty well at a conference held in 2013. You can listen to the whole conference on the link below. It is all really interesting, even the speech from Andrew Caillard MW, whose views I personally don’t share on this occasion. Or you can just listen to the first 5mn from Max.
DOWNLOAD THE CONFERENCE BUTTON ON THE RIGHT
MAX'S FOLLOW UP BLOG CAN BE FOUND HERE
SEE MORE ABOUT WHAT ANDREW CAILLARD MW SAID AND MY VIEWS ON THE VIRTUOUS VINE BLOG
by Charlie Simpson 

[PORTRAIT]
Jean-Claude Rateau - Beaune (Route de Bouze)
In the 1970s, Jean-Claude first started exploring biodynamic farming in his back garden, growing food. So when he decided to become a winegrower in 1979, taking over the family holdings, there was no question about it, everything began with biodynamic production. Jean-Claude has, therefore, the honour of being the very first wine grower in Burgundy to work under biodynamic principles. His part of the walled vineyard “Clos des Mariages” is the first and therefore oldest biodynamic parcel of vines in all of the Cote d’Or.

The 2 ha of family vineyards have been completed with a further 6 ha under long-term rental. The domaine makes wines predominantly within AOC Beaune, with some Hautes Cotes and one vineyard plot in Gevrey Chambertin. Jean-Claude also bottles a 100% Pinot Blanc (authorised in the AOC but rarely practiced) and blends small amounts of the Pinot cousins (Blanc/Gris) into some reds and whites. The AOC Beaune and 1er Cru red wines of Jean-Claude are of stunning fruit purity, which marry perfectly the feminine and masculine qualities of great pinot noir.

Certified Organic/Biodynamic, Member of renaissance des Apellations (“Return to Terroir”). 
 

[SPOTLIGHT]
Manifesto –  Renaissance des Appellations
"In terms of taste and flavour in wine, these can only ever become original and inimitable through the stamp of a terroir and its microclimate. All over the planet, terroirs exist as the unique interaction of 4 factors in a matrix: heat, light, precipitation and geology. It is the combination of these factors that each plant will absorbe in its own way, thus creating the subtlety of each AOC (Controlled Appellation of Origine).
 
Our understanding of the particularities of this matrix in certain zones gives rise to the greatness of an AOC and guarantees consumers a taste linked to the uniqueness of place. For a vine to be able to absorb through its root system the uniqueness of its terroir (minerality of the soil and sub-soil, orientation, slope, etc.) the terroir must be living, and thus totally free from herbicides. And to correctly capture the many factors of climate (wind, sun exposure, humidity, etc.) the plant must be allowed to develop and grow as naturally as possible. In particular, the leaves must be free from all synthetic chemical products which disturb photosynthesis and the general development of the living plant.
 
When healthy agriculture (organic or biodynamic) allows a place to express itself through the vines, cellar technologies (and the secondary/arbitrary flavours they can generate) become useless and detrimental to such an expression of place. The wine thus retains its original taste and its ability to mature with total transparency and honesty for the consumer."
 
Nicolas Joly
 
by Charlie Simpson 

[PARDON MY FRENCH]
"Rateau"

WORD OF ZE MONTH "Rateau" (Sounds like “Chateau”, “Bateau”, or “Blotto”)
Meaning:
A rake. Good implement for gardening or starting a revolution in the absence of other arms.
Uses:
Passer le rateau – to rake the ground.
Moustache en rateau – to have a big bushy upper lip (think Magnum P.I.).
Se prendre un rateau – when a would-be suitor is sharply turned away by his would-be damsel.

[WHAT'S GOING ON]
Natural Resistance - Film by Jonathan  Nossiter

And what if agriculture was primarily a question of culture?
Gathered under the Italian sun, a handful of vignerons and a cinema director share their passion for wine and cinéma. In just a few years, liberated farmers have transformed the face of wine and its market by producing a wine called "natural". With a taste for freedom, transmission, artisanal integrity and health of the planet (and its people) they have begun a resistance.
Ten years after Mondovino, Jonathan Nossiter has gone to Italy in search of this resistance, and to meet some of these choosers of life.

LIQUOR ACT 2007 - IT IS AGAINST THE LAW TO SELL OR SUPPLY ALCOHOL TO, OR TO OBTAIN ALCOHOL ON BEHALF OF, A PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YEARS. LIQUOR LICENSE LIQW880014425

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